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Member since: Wed Oct 13, 2004, 05:42 PM
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Kansas City takes on Citizens United

KC Move to Amend is the Kansas City chapter of Move to Amend. Over the last few weeks we've been circulating petitions in Kansas City, Mo with the following language:

We, the undersigned residents of Kansas City, Missouri, urge the Kansas City, Missouri City Council to pass the following resolution:

RESOLVED, the People of Kansas City, Missouri, stand with communities across the country to defend democracy from the corrupting effects of undue corporate power by amending the United States Constitution to establish that:
  1. Only human beings, not corporations, are endowed with constitutional rights, and
  2. Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech."

Tomorrow, June 13, Kansas City Move to Amend (KCMTA) members will deliver copies of our petition, with over 3,000 signatures, to the KCMO City Council. We expect them to vote on the resolution Thursday, June 14. The actual resolution to be voted on by the KCMO City Council incorporates the above language from our petition, plus a lot of 'WHEREAS's to make it sound more official. Full text of the resolution HERE.

Here are some excerpts from the press release sent out by KC Move to Amend:

City Council of Kansas City to Vote on Resolution To Amend the US Constitution

Amendment Needed to Overturn U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United Ruling

Kansas City MO Citizens will hold a public Press Conference and hope to celebrate the City Council’s approval of a resolution designed to curb corporate power in elections which is scheduled for a vote on June 14, 2012.

The resolution is one of more than 200 that have been passed since the Citizens United ruling in 2010, one of more than 100 passed since March. The effort is being organized by the Kansas City affiliate of Move To Amend—a national coalition of organizations formed in response to the Citizens United ruling.

“I am pleased to join elected officials across the country in sponsoring a resolution to support the efforts of Move to Amend to reverse the impact of the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The resolutions are sponsored by Republican, Democratic, and Non-partisan elected officials who are concerned about the detrimental impact of allowing unlimited political contributions by corporations, unions, and other unidentified interest groups. Regulating political contributions and spending does not limit free speech but provides a transparent process that is critical to protecting the integrity of campaigns,” says sponsoring Councilwoman, Jan Marcason. Since the Citizens United ruling, record amounts of money have been spent in races throughout the country.

Kansas City is part of a growing movement in which city councils, from Los Angeles and New York, to Duluth, Minn., and South Miami, Fla., are calling for a constitutional amendment to curb corporate influence over elections. In addition, voters have approved similar ballot initiatives in cities such as Missoula, Mont., West Allis, Wis., and Boulder, Colo. State legislatures in Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Mexico have called for an amendment as well, and similar resolutions have been introduced in 25 states, including Kansas.

Read the rest of the press release on Tony's Kansas City blog.

KC Move to Amend is so confident of passage of the resolution that we're planning a celebration and press conference following the vote. For those in the Kansas City Metro area, come join us at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut Street at 7:00PM Thursday, June14. There will be refreshments and live music by a local musician. Someone has already arranged for videotaping of the event for a YouTube video (I promise to post it here!).

We'll also be discussing where to go next. The current resolution is just for Kansas City, MO. There are other communities in the Kansas City Metro area on both sides of the Kansas / Missouri state line.

Someone is certainly going to ask: "What good does it do to have a resolution supporting a constitutional amendment from a city council? Certainly nice; but, it doesn't get the job done (of amending the Constitution)." That's certainly true; all we're asking for right now is a show of support from KC and the 200 other communities around the nation. The process of amending the Constitution has just started. It's going to be a long, long, uphill battle and we realize that.

For more information on Move to Amend, it's drive to amend the constitution and the issues involved, go to the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Move to Amend website; also check out their links. Find out if there's a Move to Amend chapter near you; if not, start one.

Rachel Maddow's talk in Kansas City Sunday

I was part of the sellout crowd to hear Rachel Maddow's talk in Kansas City Sunday, April 22. I'd already bought a ticket, so I stayed outside with volunteers for the KC Move to Amend petition drive until shortly before Rachel's appearance.

Rachel was introduced by Vivian Jennings of Rainy Day books, the Kansas City independent bookstore that brought Rachel to KC to promote her book: Drift: The Unmooring of America's Military Power. The presentation was a back and forth, Q&A session between Ms. Jennings and Rachel.

Rachel of course was brilliant, informed, insightful and wonderfully witty. The subject of her book was American military power and its misuse and that was the major theme of her talk.

Rachel was careful to emphasize that: "Liberals care about national security," as much as conservatives, even if the conservatives have dominated the dialogue for the last 30 or 40 years. She was also careful to emphasize that we should not make the mistake of: "conflating opinions on the war with support for the troops." As Rachel pointed out, PEW center surveys of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans show a majority thought the wars were unnecessary.

She went back to the founding of our country to discuss the traditional American reluctance to allow one individual to take us to war. The Constitution reserved the power to declare war to the Congress, not the president. This was long before "The Imperial Presidency" and "The Unitary Executive." Sadly, "Congress has never successfully stopped a president from going to war."

Rachel spent a lot of her talk discussing the ways that we have gotten away from the doctrine that only Congress can take us to war, from Vietnam to Iran-Contra to Dick Cheney and Iraq. She avoided calling any of this a "conspiracy theory;" although, as she explained, conspiracy theories are sort of a hobby with her; she just doesn't resort to them as an explanation for our recent history.

She made some very insightful comments about the role of national security think tanks, such as The Committee on the Present Danger, in managing public perception of the need for military action. According to Rachel, conservatives invented the idea of defense think tanks and, when Liberals try to set up similar think tanks: "They are playing on someone else's field!" The same thing goes for talk radio.

Ms. Jennings asked Rachel to comment on Kansas and Missouri politics. Rachel replied (and I'm paraphrasing) that the Democratic Party has not really moved in recent decades; but the Republican party just keeps shifting rightward. She described watching Republican conservative politics as being like watching "ping-pong on fast-forward."

She says Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is one of the "top 3 most radical governors" in the nation; but, nobody nationally pays much attention because Kansas "has always been this way," as opposed to Wisconsin, where Scott Walker represents a major political shift. Rachel remarked on Brownback's comments that he wanted to "take the tax code behind the wood shed and kill it with a dull axe," always said with a big grin. She was a little stunned by this idea that he not only wanted to kill something; but, to prolong the agony and the dying process.

As for Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, she described him as "Kansas Chief Republican export," for his role in helping to frame the debate on immigration laws.

Rachel made an off-the-cuff remark about the question she's frequently asked about which RW talking head she'd least like to be "stuck on an elevator for 4 hourse with:" Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh. Her comment was that, instead of viewing this as 4 hours that she'd have to endure, she views it as her opportunity to make them endure her. As for who, she says Rush Limbaugh, so she could ask him how he invented talk radio and what she could learn - to help liberals replicate his success.

What's really at stake in this election?

There are a number of themes to this year's election cycle: The Republican war on women's rights; their war on the poor (from raising taxes on the poorest while cutting for the richest and denying them the benefits they need to survive!), to the very survival of Social Security and Medicare. Here's another issue that's rarely stated: The Republican need to crush, absolutely and ruthlessly, any vestige of dissent and any form of social revolution.

One of my old journal pieces linked the 1886 Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad Supreme Court Decision (which gifted us with the concept of 'corporate personhood) to the ruthless crushing of the Paris Commune of 1871:

The Paris Commune was the first international incident followed daily in the United States. While President Barack Obama complains about the 24-hour news cycle today, its roots stretch back to Cyrus Field's transcontinental telegraph cable, which allowed the elites of America to focus intently on the two-month uprising and ultimate slaughter of thousands of Parisians. Cyrus Field's brother and his family were in Paris at the time, and a third brother, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field, obsessively tracked the news back in the states. It was the Paris uprising that transformed Stephen Field from a mundanely corrupt judge in the paid service of the railroads to a zealous crusader for all corporations, with the aim of suppressing what he and other leaders saw as the threat of democracy from below.

The Paris Commune was an attempt to impose economic democracy on Paris, nearly 80 years after the original French Revolution. It was, of course, ruthlessly crushed, just as the Revolutions of 1848 were. But, the fact of the Paris Communal uprising frightened the elites in the United States (just as the original French Revolution had!). The Supreme Court's decision in Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad was a preemptive strike at any revolt in the US.

That's been a theme in Republican politics since Richard Nixon. For those old enough to remember, Nixon was elected by appealing to the 'Silent Majority' frightened by the civil rights movement, the women's liberation movement, the anti-war and the general youth revolt of the 1960s. The October Surprise of 1968, when Nixon's operatives convinced the North Vietnamese to walk away from the peace talks until after the election, played a part; but, generally Nixon appealed to a large segment of the populace, largely older, rural and white who were frightened by the upheavals of the 60s. This is, of course, largely the group that makes up the Tea Party.

Nixon and his GOP supporters in Congress defunded the Great Society programs from the JFK/LBJ years. Nixon used vice-president Spiro Agnew as his attack dog against the young demonstrators and the left in general. Anti-war demonstrators increasingly found themselves facing brutal attacks by police and sometimes soldiers, as in the Kent State massacre.

I'm old enough to remember the reactions of the older generation to this; they generally cheered on the National Guard. The consensus seemed to be that: "the students got what was coming to them." There were reports of parents telling their children: "If you were there, they should have shot you too!"

This counterrevolution was a continuing theme through the Reagan and Bush (both Bushes) administrations. John Ashcroft made the elimination of any vestige of the 60s revolution a theme throughout his senate campaigns, his bid for the Presidency and his term as Attorney General of the United States.

Now, we have a younger generation that wants change, when Mr. Obama, by and large, failed to deliver on the revolutionary change he promised, they took to the streets. They occupied Wall Street and the public parks in major cities around the country, even here in Kansas City. They've already faced brutal attacks from police in Oakland and elsewhere.

The GOP agenda now includes the destruction of a century of progressive progress; having crushed the Great Society, they're openly targeting the New Deal. The Ryan Budget revives 19th Century laissez faire and social darwinism. They can't accomplish this extremist agenda without crushing any movement calling for economic fairness and democracy, and Occupy is the most visible and effective movement out there.

Mitt Romney hasn't openly said: "Elect me and I'll get those dirty hippies!" But, we know that's part of his agenda, especially if his election brings in a new crop of Congressional Tea Party Republicans, as it probably would. He can't carry out that regressive agenda without ruthlessly crushing any opposition.

Admittedly, the Democratic party has often been a disappointment to those of us on the left; but, they're far better than the current regressive incarnation of the GOP. We may not accomplish much in the way of progress in this election (Although I have hopes for Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson); but, we must stop the rightward, regressive movement that threatens to crush any hope of change in this country.

Space Exploration and the culture of innovation: an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson


Space may be the final frontier, but what if it’s also the wellspring of economic recovery?

In his latest book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, Neil deGrasse Tyson contends that America’s golden age of space exploration in the 1960s fostered a culture of innovation that helped propel its leading edge economy. While the spinoff tech industries that NASA has directly or indirectly touched are impressive in their own right, Dr. Tyson believes the greatest value of space exploration lies in its capacity to inspire a nation to embrace science. This mindset drives an economic engine of innovation that creates high-skilled jobs as opposed to an economy that merely outsources cheap labor.


Oh, and by-the-way, now that we’ve gone to the moon with Apollo 8 in 1968 with the image of Earth rise over the lunar landscape – now that we’ve been to the moon, hey, we’ve just taken a look at Earth for the first time.

Let’s have a different attitude towards Earth. Let’s create the Environmental Protection Agency – 1970. Let’s introduce auto emissions – 1973. Let’s put major changes in the Clean Air Act – 1970. The Clean Water Act – 1971. The Whole Earth Catalog – 1968. The beginning of Doctors Without Borders – 1970.

Where did the concept of “without borders” come from? No one had that concept until you saw Earth from space, illustrated not by a mapmaker who’s color-coding political boundaries; it’s illustrated by nature itself and there’s land, there’s ocean, there’s atmosphere.


But when I look around me and see statements people make who wield resources and who wield power, and that statement exhibits some kind of profound illiteracy, then I worry for the future of the country – it’ll be, “America? Oh, that’s the 20th century country, the one that really made a difference to the world in the 20th century. Oh, they’ve faded since then.”

And we know why we made a difference in the 20th century and we ought to be able to prevent failure in the 21st century if we just study the problem – even if only so briefly. So with regard to the comments about attending college, politicians will say what they feel they need to or want to – I don’t even think much about politicians. I think about the people in the audience who applaud the politicians. They are your fellow countrymen and they’re the ones you live with – that should be who we target for education and enlightenment.

Because they would then not accept a statement by a presidential candidate that says that urging people to go to college is an act of snobbery. Now that being said, the educated elite is not without their own actual snobbery. And I kind of an anti-elitist in that regard.


Dr. Tyson has made the most sophisticated defense of space exploration that I've seen to date!

Dr. Eric Drexler on the future of Nanotechnology

Way back in 1986, at a space development conference in Seattle, I first heard a young man by the name of K. Eric Drexler talk about some work he was doing on engineering on a molecular level; Eric labeled this new field: "Nanotechnology," engineering on a nanometer (billionth of a meter) scale. Since the word nanotechnology has been co-opted and everyone wants to label his project 'nanotechnology,' Eric has renamed his field: Molecular Nanotechnology or Atomically Precise Nanotechnology referring to the molecular scale and to the fact that it's atomically precise, where you know where each atom is going.

Eric is currently working and teaching at Oxford College in the UK, where he gave this talk on the future of nanotechnology:

A couple of years ago, I posted this journal post on molecular nanotechnology. I still recommend it for the resources it gives for anyone wishing to study the field.

Two paragraphs from that journal post still ring true:

My own feelings are a mixture of hope - and dread! MNT has a great potential to address problems such as climate change, peak oil, water shortages and resource depletion. Much of its promise lies in the fact that its so much more efficient in its use of energy and materials than conventional manufacturing. Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology have pointed out that MNT could reduce the gap between the world's rich and poor or increase it. It could also result in a dangerous arms race.

That's the major reason that I want progressives to get involved in discussion of MNT and public policies on its use and implementation. Given our present trajectory toward a world 'plutonomy,' an economy run by and for the ultra-rich, it's more likely to increase that gap.

My remark about "our present trajectory toward a world 'plutonomy,'" strike me as particularly relevant in considering Dr. Drexler's upcoming book: Radical Abundance. I recommend the book, when it becomes available; however I am concerned that the wealth produced by molecular nanotechnology will be captured by the 1% - the 'Plutonomy' I mentioned. That makes the success of the worldwide Occupy movements so critical, and why I want progressives to take back the discussion of our future.

Right now, the right tends to monopolize that discussion. Just do a Google search on: nanotechnology AND "Heritage Foundation."

I agree with a lot of the points you made in this thread; but. I'm still hopeful.

I heartily agree with you that JFK's space program was a unique opportunity to "beat our swords into plowshares." I made similar points in a post in General Discussion last month: "I remember when a Democratic president committed us to go to the moon. I got some good comments, but, a lot of negative responses; sadly it seems quite a few good liberals don't see the value in space exploration.

I agree that there are some disturbing trends, such as the turning away from peaceful space exploration, the dumbing down of our educational system and the dumbing down of our political discourse (Witness the recent GOP debates). However, there are hopeful counter-trends: a push back on many levels, against the abuses of power, the resurgence of liberal religion, and a neglected and often maligned Progressive Caucus in Congress. Maybe there's hope, even for the U.S.

If the U.S. doesn't lead the breakout into space, there's still China, Europe, even Russia. Have you heard that Russia has put out some feelers to Europe and even the U.S. on a cooperative lunar base for the late 2030s and beyond? The only disappointing thing in that is the timetable: In the 1960s we did it in less than a decade.

Getting back to the Wow Signal: There's another possibility that no one has mentioned yet; it's based on the fact that everything in the universe is in motion. That, of course includes the Earth and the hypothetical source of the Wow signal. Maybe the Earth briefly crossed the path of a communication between a two solar systems or between a starship and its home world.

Anyway, I think that it's worthwhile to keep searching. Dr. Jill Tartar of Seti has stated that, what we would get from First Contact would be the knowledge that another civilization survived its technological adolescence.

Are Co-ops the Future of Capitalism?

There's a fascinating article at Alternet.org: UN Declares 2012 The Year of The Co-op: Is This The Future of Capitalism?

The Industrial Age gave the us the giant, top-down, vertically-integrated corporations that concentrated wealth in the hands of a very few mega-rich and gave us two Gilded Ages (We're living in one now!). Now a new model of worker owned companies is challenging the big, top-down corporations.

The United Nations has named 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, and indeed, co-ops seem poised to become a dominant business model around the world. Today, nearly one billion people worldwide are cooperative member-owners. That’s one in five adults over 15 — and it could soon be you.

Cooperatives have been around in one form or another throughout human history, but modern models began popping up about 150 years ago. Today’s co-ops are collaboratively owned by their members, who also control the enterprise collaboratively by democratic vote. This means that decisions made in cooperatives are balanced between the pursuit of profit, and the needs of members and their communities. Most co-ops also follow the Seven Cooperative Principles, a unique set of guidelines that help maintain their member-driven nature.


While 20th-century corporations were good at making money, the 21st century finds humanity in need of new business models that value sustainable growth and community benefit. The UN stands behind cooperative models, and in 2012 will dedicate its efforts to raising awareness of co-ops, helping them grow and influencing governments to support them legislatively.

The next few paragraphs are a discussion of the growth of the modern co-op movement. There's also an invitation to start your own co-op:

If you knew how many successful cooperatives surrounded you, and what a positive impact cooperative enterprise can have on the world, would you be more likely to join or start your own co-op? The UN believes you might. This is one of the primary goals of both the UN and the International Cooperative Alliance: to make you aware of the cooperatives in your own backyard, as well as their potential to influence your life and future.

The article goes on to discuss the role that legislation can play in encouraging the growth of co-ops, and the need for such legislation.

Co-ops can also have a major role to play in reducing poverty and inequality, as the workers of Mondragon, Spain proved when they started their own co-op:

In 2000, poverty expert Barbara Peters visited the town of Mondragón. She labeled it a “town without poverty” — and also noted the absence of “extreme wealth.” Peters immediately made the connection between this small town in Spain’s industrial region, and the suffering Rust Belt of North America. If the USW’s new plan succeeds, cooperatives may be able to reinvent faltering towns, even as they reinvent their own image for American workers.

Ultimately, the key to equal employment and fair wages may be as simple as taking control of our own economic realities, stepping up and sharing the responsibility for our future. The United Nations thinks you’d be a great boss — don’t you?

Michael Moore, Jim Hightower, and the authors of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Always Work Better have all spoken of the need for new forms of corporate control to reduce inequality. The growth of new technologies, such as 3-D printing and molecular nanotechnology may provide the opportunity for new business models. The egalitarian co-op may be the dominant model in our future.

Read the rest at the Alternet Visions section.

Paul Krugman tears Charles Murray a new one!

Charles Murray has made a career of cherry-picking data to tell the elites exactly what they want to hear. In Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980, he tried to say that money spent on welfare was actually hurting the people it was intended to help; in his most famous book: The Bell Curve he tried to prove, among other things, that social classes were inevitable because poor people had lower IQ's. His latest book: Coming Apart turns on the white working class that has formed the backbone of the Republican constituency since Nixon's southern strategy of 1968. Murray claims that the working class is suffering from a moral breakdown and that is what's causing their economic hardships.

He's getting (and deserving) a lot of flack for his conclusions, one of the best smackdown's of Murray's psuedoscience comes from Professor Paul Krugman. Prof. Krugman has devoted a number of posts in his NY Times blog to refuting Murray.

Prof. Krugman begins in Blaming the Victims of Inequality to take Murray apart:

All the talk on the intellectual (or pseudo-intellectual) right seems to be about Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart: The State of White America, which asserts that the problem with blue-collar whites is … declining family values.


From an analytical point of view, this would seem to be a very odd time to focus on the alleged moral decline of the lower classes. During the 60s, it was at least somewhat reasonable to ask why social ills were rising despite a booming economy producing widely shared gains (although as William Julius Wilson pointed out, work was disappearing in the inner cities, and this helped explain rising social problems among those trapped in those inner cities). But now we have an economy that has left blue-collar workers behind; why invoke social values to explain their plight?

And to the extent that social decay is a reality among, say, the bottom third of the income distribution among whites, doesn’t this say that Wilson was right, that lack of economic opportunity is what breeds social disruption?

Of course, the sudden fuss about values makes perfect sense from a political point of view, as a distraction from the issue of soaring incomes at the top.

In Wages and Values, Krugman takes on Murray's and others for bemoaning the "deteriorating values of working-class Americans:"

Should we really be surprised that young men, confronting the reality that they won’t earn anything near as much in real terms as their fathers did — and that they will be even further from having what society sees as an adequate income, because even Adam Smith acknowledged the importance of social norms in defining prosperity — don’t marry and raise families the way the previous generation did?

His last post on this, to date, is Different slopes for Different Folks, where he takes on Murray's insistence that lowered wages should not lead to a lowered incentive to work:

So Murray is suggesting that a lower wage should not lead to any decline in work effort, and maybe even to an increase, since it takes more hours to achieve a given standard of living. In effect, he’s saying that the supply curve for labor, instead of sloping upward, slopes downward — or at any rate that it should.

This is not a crazy position: “backward-bending” labor supply is a staple of economics textbooks, because income effects work against substitution effects. Raise my wage rate, and the payoff to working more increases; but I also get richer; and one of the things people consume more of when they get richer, other things equal, is leisure. So a higher wage could lead either to a rise or fall in labor supply, and a lower wage similarly could work in either direction.

So far so good — although it’s one thing to assert this as a possibility, another to just assume it so that you can skip all the economic data and go straight to condemning moral values.

As Prof. Krugman says on another thread:

The key reason we can’t have a polite debate is that one side keeps putting out the old discredited arguments, again and again. Inequality hasn’t really increased, never mind the IRS data; we have huge social mobility, never mind the actual evidence; tax rates on the rich have gone up because they pay more taxes, never mind their soaring incomes; taxing the rich even slightly more has devastating effects on economic growth, never mind the Clinton boom and the Bush not-boom.

What if Obama loses? Must-read!

People here are telling each other that the GOP can't win, just can't win, really can't win in 2012. Johnathan Kohn at the New Republic begs to differ, and I think you need to read:

The presidential election of 2000 still makes me angry. Mostly that’s because of the grotesque way it ended, with five Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices shutting down the Florida recount. But partly that’s because of the liberal apathy that first put the outcome into doubt. Throughout the campaign, plenty of liberals told themselves the election didn’t really matter, because the differences between the two candidates weren’t that stark. A few of them even voted for Ralph Nader. Those votes were more than enough to change the eventual outcome.

Sound familiar?

History proved that these liberals were wrong. By any reckoning, the last decade would have been radically different if Al Gore, not George W. Bush, became president in 2001. And I’d like to think liberals will remember that in 2012, when the choice is between President Obama and the eventual Republican nominee. But I’m not sure they will. I certainly hear and read many smart liberals upset with President Obama, for things he’s done and (more frequently) for things he hasn’t done. I’m not sure how much they speak for liberals generally, but in a close election, like the one we’re likely to see in 2012, even modest changes in enthusiasm could change the outcome.

Kohn links over to the February issue of the Washington Monthly with the cover article: What if Obama Loses? with links to several articles by respected scholars on consequences of a GOP takeover.

Just some of those consequences would be:
  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act
  • Gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency - ending any possibility of action on Global Warming
  • Continued Conservative takeover of the courts
  • Ending any effort to regulate the financial industry
  • Have I mentioned a new war yet?

I know people are saying that: There's no enthusiasm for Mitt, and people won't vote for someone as bat-shit crazy as Newt or Santorum, and Obama will win in a landslide. But we have to face the facts:

  • The GOP candidate will have half a billion dollars in his campaign piggy bank from the Kochs and others
  • We're going to face more dirty tricks from voter disqualification to tampering with electronic vote counts
  • The recovery, while real, is still shaky. Factors from the European economy to the price of gas could put us back in recession

A great comic actor, W.C.Fields, once said: "Time to take the bull by the horns and look the facts in the face!" It's time to face the possibility we might lose, and to buckle down to a hard fight, now until November.

Sara Robinson's New Rules for Radicals

I've been appalled at the way that discussion of the future has been dominated by conservatives and faux libertarians (Google on nanotechnology AND "Heritage Foundation". Now a progressive site is getting into the futurist game: AlterNet has a new "Visions" section. One of the first articles is by Sara Robinson, a professional futurist and progressive.

Her first article for the AlterNet's new section is: New Rules for Radicals: 10 Ways To Spark Change in a Post-Occupy World. Her first rule:

The first rule is this: The world is different now. The rules have changed.

Since Occupy, we all understand this. Nothing works now the way it did even just a couple of years ago. Political tactics that haven’t budged public opinion in years — like petitions and big street demonstrations — are suddenly working again. Narratives that seemed unassailable — like the primacy of free markets and low taxes — are being openly questioned. Doors that used to be closed to us are now opening. The media that once ignored us is now starting to listen. The conservatives are shaken and fumbling, stuck on autopilot and unable to re-route away from their old course even as disaster looms dead ahead. What’s going on here?

This next rule is one that I think a lot of people on Democratic Underground need to read:

2. No despair. Despair is a waste of time and energy.

Anger is useful. It gets the blood moving. It gets people out of their chairs and into the streets. Harnessed quickly to constructive action, it’s the fuel that drives change. But anger, once generated, also cools and congeals quickly into frustration, cynicism and despair. Indulging in our daily two-minute hate may be cathartic, but ultimately, it doesn’t change a damn thing about our situation. Even worse: it curdles, producing paralysis. Worst of all: once it starts festering, there’s nothing left to do with it but turn it on each other.

So: let’s drop that cool, cynical, I’ve-seen-it-all, let’s-not-get-too-excited-here stance. Stepping back from the pain by telling ourselves sagely that it’s all too much, our enemies are too strong, and there’s nothing we can do — that’s the lazy way out. Yes, you are no doubt right: and yes, it sucks mightily. But the answer to that isn’t to sit around indulging in a group bitch session about how awful it all is. The answer is to get off our butts and get back to work, because life is short and there’s a whole planet out there that needs to be fixed on our watch.

Think she sounds too optimistic? Read the article. There's also a planned newsletter for the Visions section.
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